Monday, fourth of January 2016 and all of us toilet cleaners and tea people were at work by six. We subordinate staff always have to report on day one of the office year. It makes no sense because we cleaned all of last year’s shit and the rest of the office went to Mombasa so the toilets ought to be clean. At least leave us that one day to take our children to cheap public schools in Eastlands. If you want to know who is at the bottom of the power hierarchy in an office, visit them on the first day of the office year, or a public holiday.
The lower levels of staff are in the same plight even though usually they think themselves better than us. So it was us, the receptionists, and the PAs of the bosses, in case the bosses popped in wearing shorts to check their facebook for five minutes. With the PAs of the bosses it was a hierarchy of beauty. The more pretty the PA, the more likely her boss would let her misbehave a little. So it was us, the receptionists, and the ugly PAs. I was just wiping light dust off the toilet bowls. On the first day of work you don’t expect much traffic.
Imagine my surprise when just after lunch, I smelled the unholy stench of a medium-sized Bwana Boaz grey monster. I could have gone to confirm but that smell was unmistakable. What was he doing here on fourth of January? I took a u-turn and headed straight for his office to express my displeasure while pretending to say hi. When I walked in, he was doing that talking to the computer thing they call skyping with some woman. What skype conversation is this that he could not have done at his house? All these wadosi have wifi at home.
“Habari ya Bwana Boaz,” I ventured.
“Ah salama salama, umevuka mwaka?”
“Eeeeh, ninaona hata wewe umeingia na vishindo kama zile za last year.”
I was talking about his excrement habits but these office types usually look down on you so they don’t expect you to hide other meanings when you talk to them. We call it ‘kupima kichwa’ – measuring their heads. Truthfully, it is just school we missed. Some of us are much more intelligent than most of them. He definitely didn’t shikanisha that one.
“Ndio hiyo,” he smiled, “vishindo kuliko hata last year. This year tunawaka moto. Itakuwa vishindo baada ya vishindo. Weka macho. This year, juu ya vishindo tu, utaniona kwa TV.”
“Sweetie who are you talking to?” The skype woman asked.
I managed to stifle my laughter. If he was going to shit until he appeared on TV for shitting, I needed to switch places with Mogire. I did not want to be the one cleaning this floor’s toilets when it happened. And who is this he was skyping in such an optimistic mood? I was curious.
“Heeeee. Kama umepanga hivyo, wacha na sisi tuone vile tutafanya. Hiyo ni danger,” and I meant it. “Uko na client kwa skype ama?”
He hesitated for a crucial moment before answering, “Eee, ni client wa December mwingine.”
“Sweetie who are you talking to?” The skype woman asked again. She sounded like Monica, the new sales girl on his team. She had not even finished two months at the office.
“Oh, it is just Muraguri,” he replied. I closed the door and left, because I had shit to do.
‘Client wa December’ he had said. As if the clients knew my name. I had measured his head.